Roanoke police targeting gangs in push to reduce gun violence

78.4% of gun violence in Roanoke were confirmed or suspected to be gang-related

ROANOKE, Va. – New numbers are shedding light on increased gun violence in the Star City.

During its latest meeting Friday, the Roanoke Gun Violence Task Force discussed the role gangs are playing in the problem and what can be done to stop it.

Since forming last summer, the task force has faced a major challenge in making the Star City a safer place: gang violence.

Roanoke police officers presented new statistics Friday morning to give insight into just how bad the problem is.

Of 51 incidents so far this year where a person was struck by gunfire, police said 78.4% were confirmed or suspected to be gang-related. Then, 31 were confirmed, or 60.8%. and 9 were suspected, or 17.6%.

To help combat the issue, the Roanoke Police Department has recently made some big changes which include launching a new gang detective unit and restructuring positions to better align with federal partners and improve communication.

“One of the issues that we face as an agency as well is recruitment. So we have provided a recruiter spot for the academy that eventually will be filled we hope and that way we can get more officers that are either certified or have to go through academy. And that will help with patrol shortages and manpower that we have right now,” Roanoke Police Capt. Adam Puckett said.

Officers are working on targeted strategies to reduce gun violence.

Looking at the data, most incidents have happened between 12 and 11 p.m. and most are happening in northwest Roanoke.

The task force will present its budget priorities to City Council Monday at 2 p.m.

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